Local government officers will soon be required to file their financial disclosure statement forms online. The goal is to facilitate greater public disclosure of FDS forms while also relieving records custodians of some of the burdens associated with Open Public Records Act (OPRA) compliance.
In New Jersey, local government officers have a statutory obligation to file an annual financial disclosure statement (FDS). The failure to do so can result in penalties and disciplinary action. N.J.S.A. 40A: 9-22.3g defines a local government officer as any person, whether compensated or not, whether part-time or full- time:
- elected to any office of a local government agency;
- serving on a local government agency, which has the authority to enact ordinances, approve development applications or grant zoning variances;
- who is a member of an independent municipal, county or regional authority; or
- who is a managerial executive or confidential employee of a local government agency, as defined in Section 3 of the “New Jersey Employer-Employee Relations Act,” P.L. 1941, c.100 (C.34: 13A-3), but shall not mean any employee of a school district or member of a school board.
Under the new system, local government officers must submit the FDS using the online procedure and deliver a copy of the filing receipt containing the officer’s original signature to the municipal clerk, county clerk, or other local government designee. As detailed in Local Finance Notice 2013-13, it is important to highlight that N.J.S.A. 40A:9-22.6(b), states that “a copy of the statement shall be filed with the [Local Finance] board,” is not satisfied unless both steps are completed.
Due to delays with the new system, the Division of Local Government Services has extended filing deadlines until the end of May. The agency is also expected to release additional filing instructions this month.
For more information about the new online filing requirements or other disclosure obligations for New Jersey public employees, we encourage you to contact a member of Scarinci Hollenbeck’s Public Law Group.